A cornerstone of ecosystem ecology, decomposition was recognized as a fundamental process driving the exchange of energy in ecosystems by early ecologists such as Lindeman 1942 and Odum 1960). In the history of ecology, studies of decomposition were incorporated into the International Biological Program in the 1960s to compare the nature of organic matter breakdown in various ecosystem types. Such studies still have an important role in ecological studies of today. More recent refinements have brought debates on the relative role microbes, invertebrates and environment in the breakdown and release of carbon into the atmosphere, as well as how nutrient cycling, production and other ecosystem processes regulated by decomposition may shift with climate change. Therefore, this bibliography examines the primary literature related to organic matter breakdown, but it also explores topics in which decomposition plays a key supporting role including vegetation composition, latitudinal gradients, altered ecosystems, anthropogenic impacts, carbon storage, and climate change models. Knowledge of these topics is relevant to both the study of ecosystem ecology as well projections of future conditions for human societies.